|Gen Fyansford map taken from GENFYANSFORD.COM.AU|
The earliest residents of the Fyansford region were of course the Wathaurong. At various times of the year, they used the rocky bed of the ana-branch between the Barwon and the Moorabool Rivers as an eel trap. The Wathaurong name for the area at the confluence of the two rivers was Bukar Bulac meaning "the place between two rivers" and as it was for the early European settlers, a shallow section of the Moorabool about one and a half kilometres upstream from its confluence with the Barwon was a natural crossing point.
The first European settler to take up residence along the banks of the Moorabool River at Fyansford was of course Captain Foster Fyans himself. But where exactly did he erect his hut? (Another question also asked by John.)
It is widely known that Fyans set sail for Port Phillip in September, 1837, taking with him, a dozen convicts and four staff with whom he established a camp at the spot which soon became known as Fyans' Ford. Pinpointing the exact location of that first settlement is a little more tricky, however there are a couple of sources at the Geelong Historical Record Centre which shed some light.
|Captain Foster Fyans. Image held by the State Library|
"It is built of slabs well plastered, and the roof, instead of bark (like the Van Dieman's station), is grass covered outside with clay to prevent its blowing off or taking fire.So, according to Riley, Fyans' hut was located on the Moorabool almost a mile from its confluence with the Barwon. At the beginning of the article, Holden indicates that the hut was on the east bank of the river, but oddly, states that it was a short distance downstream of the "current" bridge which is only three quarters of a mile from the confluence and yet, a grainy photograph from the same compilation of notes by Holden perhaps appears to indicate a site closer to the ford, as suggested by Riley.
"Inside for a ceiling a large Union Jack was stretched from corner to corner - thus our own country's banner forming a shelter for our heads.
Fyans' Hobby"There was a turning lathe in one corner, and small pictures of which there were many, hung around the room, the frames of which the old gentleman had amused himself in making, and which were really well done.
"There were spears, swords, armor and curiosities of all kinds exhibited on the walls. The hut is situated close to the River Moorabool, about one mile from its junction with the Barwon,.."
|Looking upstream from the Fyansford Monier bridge towards the ford and|
possibly the site of Fyans' hut
Fyans did not spend long at the site which would become the township which bears his name. Riley noted in his letter that once the "barracks" were built (presumably at Geelong), the camp would be disbanded. Whether this also included the removal of Fyan's hut or not, I do not know. On the 1st January, 1840 he was appointed Police Magistrate at Portland Bay, taking him away from the district at that time.
His tenure at Fyansford however was only the beginning. Within a few years, the site he had chosen to make his camp had become a thriving village.